Monday, February 28, 2005

No More Ruby's

The gallery opening did have cheese, and about half a dozen painters from the abstract to the photographic realist. The performance part consisted of a jazz combo of guys from Bulgaria.

What was really notable for me was the space the gallery was in. It was in a renovated industrial building on 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, the kind of neighborhood where you would have been afraid to walk around a couple of years ago because there was nothing there at night and on weekends, and now is full of multi-million dollar condo lofts. You still have a long walk to the nearest Duane Reade, though.

Another neighborhood that seems to have been sprouting condo lofts lately is Chambers Street, which separates Tribeca from the Wall Street/World Trade Center area. I look into the windows of buildings that for as long as I can remember had housed sweatshops, sleazy insurance companies, notary publics or learn-to-drive places, and suddenly I'm a Peeping Tom in somebody's granite-and-stainless steel kitchen.

An unfortunate casualty of this transformation is Ruby's Book Sale, which is closing a week from today. They saw some of their business affected by the shutdown of that area for several weeks after 9/11, and then the gentrification is finishing the job. Ruby's not only sold half-price and discounted books, but they would (selectively) buy your stuff in exchange for store credit.

And not only books. They were the only place I knew of in the city that would buy and sell recent back-dated magazines. Sometimes you would often find the current issue of some magazine that would have been eight or nine dollars at full price. When I worked in an ad agency, we would be inundated with multiple copies of every publication that could possibly carry an ad. Every couple of weeks, I would bring Ruby's as much as I could haul down on the No. 1 subway train, and use the store credit towards half-price computer manuals and mass market paperback mysteries. And they were, like, the place to get something to read on Jury Duty.

They'll be having a 50% off sale until they close, and I still have a little store credit and some room on my bookshelves. Meanwhile, I will continue to hunt down other small places to buy and sell books and magazines. Or else I'll brave the crowds at the Strand. Or keep using Amazon Marketplace or, thereby spending even more time sitting at my desk and getting a big butt from eating all that cheese.

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